Gülen's extradition, ending support to YPG key for Turkey-US relations: FM Çavuşoğlu
by Daily Sabah with AA
ISTANBULMar 23, 2017 - 12:00 am GMT+3
by Daily Sabah with AA
Mar 23, 2017 12:00 am
Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said on Tuesday that the future of relations between the U.S. and Turkey rely on "two key factors:" The extradition of the leader of the Gülenist Terror Group (FETÖ), Fetullah Gülen, and an end to the U.S.'s support of the PKK terrorist organization's Syrian offshoot the Democratic Union Party (PYD) and its armed wing, the People's Protection Units (YPG).
"The U.S. must not rely on the YPG to defeat Daesh in Syria, the YPG is just an extension of the PKK," Çavuşoğlu said during his official visit in Washington, adding, "The PKK terrorists who are responsible for the last terrorist attacks, suicide bomb attacks in Ankara and Istanbul, all came from YPG camps in Syria,"
"We cannot rely on another terrorist organization in our fight against Daesh," he said.
The YPG-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) has been Washington's principle partner in the anti-Daesh fight in northern Syria, vexing Ankara.
Çavuşoğlu said the YPG is fighting Daesh "because they want to divide Syria, and they want to gain more territory within Syria."
"Not because they hate Daesh," he added. "This is also a risk for the political future of Syria."
U.S. support for the YPG has threatened to upend relations between Washington and Ankara. In addition, Çavuşoğlu said the continued presence of Gülen in the U.S. despite Ankara's extradition request for the alleged terrorist ringleader overshadows relations.
FETÖ, whose leader Gülen has been living in Pennsylvania since 1999, tried to topple the democratically elected government of Turkey on July 15, but the attempt was foiled by a public stand against coup plotters and police and military forces loyal to the government. The attempt resulted in 249 deaths."
Meanwhile, Justice Minister Bekir Bozdağ said yesterday that Turkey's demands were conveyed to U.S. counterpart Jeff Sessions in a phone conversation on Tuesday.
"I have conveyed to him what the extradition of FETÖ's head terrorist Gülen means to the Turkish people and the Turkish state. Terrorist group leader Gülen continues to control the terror group against Turkey without any limitations from Pennsylvania. This situation continues to damage relations between the people of both countries," he said speaking to reporters in Turkey's northern Sinop province.
Despite the issues, Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu maintained the U.S. and Turkey are "vitally important" for one another.
"When we work together effectively we bring about positive change," he said. "It is important that Turkey and the United States understand and help each other much better."
Another issue that Çavuşoğlu said the U.S. and Turkey should cooperate on is NATO, which he said remains "the cornerstone of Euro-Atlantic security," but is in need of revitalization.
"We take the new U.S. administration's call for a better and fairer burden-sharing seriously," he said, noting that Ankara is working to reach NATO's 2 percent target for GDP spending on defense.
Çavuşoğlu met with Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Trump's National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster on Tuesday, the first day of his visit to Washington.
He was expected to meet with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson yesterday during an anti-Daesh coalition gathering.
Meanwhile, Çavuşoğlu held a meeting on Syria with his French counterpart Jean-Marc Ayrault during his visit.
The meeting was organized by Ayrault at the French embassy in Washington to evaluate the latest developments in Syria and the Middle East, before the planned ministerial meeting regarding a global anti-Daesh coalition on Wednesday.
The two foreign ministers addressed the Syrian crisis in detail, and Çavuşoğlu conveyed Turkey's priorities for Syria to Ayrault.
Çavuşoğlu also held bilateral talks with U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions and National Security Advisor H. R. McMaster in Washington, during which the main topics were the extradition of FETÖ terrorist group's leader Fetullah Gülen, who is responsible for the failed July 15 coup attempt, and the U.S. supporting the PKK-offshoot the PYD in Syria.
Çavuşoğlu is also expected to meet with Turkish citizens in New York on Wednesday.